The Life Of Thomas Hardy

The realization that the few remaining persons who had known Thomas
Hardy will soon have passed from the world faced the Editor with the
imperative duty of recording their recollections of him before it was too
late. He was in the fortunate position of knowing several who had not
yet recorded their memories of Hardy and made it his business to encourage
them to do so.

The search for new evidence continues. Serious interest
began when the Editor invited Mrs. Gertrude Bugler, then his neighbour at
Beaminster, to givc a talk on her recollections of Thomas Hardy at the
Dorset Evening organized by the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological
Society, in the Corn Exchange, Dorchester, 7th April, 1959. This she
willingly agreed to give, and enchanted her audience. Her talk was published
by the Society and met with considerable appreciation, even from as far
afield as Japan and Peru.

It occurred to Stevens Cox that the Hardy recollections of N. J. Atkins,
who played Alec D’Urberville with Gertrude Bugler as Tess in the original
production of Tess of the D’Urbervilles at Dorchester, November 26th, 1924,
would also provide the Hardy student with a man’s viewpoint by one who
had beenclose to the master. Hard.v, Tess and Myself, published December,
1962, by the Toucan Press, Beaminster, was the result, followed in the same
week by Tryphena and Thomas Hardy by Lois Deacon. This was the first
publication of the evidence of the secret betrothal in 1867 of Tryphena
Sparks (The Dark Lady of the Lyrics) aged sixteen, and Thomas Hardy,
aged twenty-seven.

The fourth of the series was The Domestic Life of Thomas Hardy, by
Miss Ellen E. Titterington (Hardy’s parlour-maid), and this gives us “the
most intimate glimpses of his home life we shall ever have”.